By: Terry Ahtziry Cardenas Banda, attorney and former professor.
Each year around 526,000 people die from armed violence, not counting all those who are seriously injured by the use of weapons or explosives, according to The Small Arms Survey. According to the organization around the world, 875 million firearms are distributed, of which 650 million are in civilian hands. This number has increased in excess in recent years.
In Mexico, according to the National Public Security System (SNSP), 5,586 homicides were reported in the year 2016 with some type of firearm and this not counting all those unreported homicides or cases of serious injuries caused by firearms. On the other side of the border, in the United States, about 17,544 incidents of violence caused by some type of firearm have been reported in 2017, of which 4,369 have resulted in deaths caused by firearms, statistics according to the organization Gun Violence Archive (GVA).
In the United States, the law of arms is guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America in its 2nd Amendment which states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. In Mexico, the right to possess arms is also a constitutional right, established in article 10 of the Mexican constitution, which says: “The inhabitants of the United Mexican States have the right to possess arms in their homes, for their security and legitimate defense, except for those prohibited by Federal Law and those reserved for the exclusive use of the Army, Navy, Air Force and National Guard. The federal law shall determine the cases, conditions, requirements and places where the inhabitants may be authorized to carry weapons”.
Although it can be observed that the right of possession and bear arms granted in the US Constitution is broader without any limitation, it is for this reason that the use, control, purchase and sale of firearms in the United States is different than in Mexico. In the United States, however, each State has its own control over the sale and purchase of firearms; unlike Mexico, in the United States, there are innumerable stores dedicated to the sale of firearms, since arms purchases are made in private businesses and therefore it is easier for every citizen to have access to a firearm, in most states there is no control over the sale and purchase of firearms. In the United States, the department that is dedicated to execute the laws of arms is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Arms and Explosives (ATF), is responsible for the regulations respect the possession, purchase and sale of firearms.
Unlike the United States in Mexico, the right guaranteed by the constitution for possession of weapons is more specific, article 10 of the Constitution guarantees citizens the possession of weapons for their security and legitimate defense. In addition, they must comply with certain requirements to be able to possess a weapon legally in Mexico, just as the sale of weapons in a legal way in Mexico is more limited than in the United States. In Mexico, the institution responsible for regulating everything regarding the possession and sale of firearms is the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA), and the agency that oversees the authorization for the proper handling and possession of firearms, for both citizens and public agencies, is the General Directorate of the Federal Register of Firearms and Explosives Control.
In Mexico, those citizens who wish to acquire a firearm can go to the “Armeria”, the only place in which they can legally acquire a firearm in Mexico. For the purchase of a firearm citizens must comply with several requirements, they must request authorization for the purchase and submit the following documents: purchase forms (filled and signed), work letter, letter of NO criminal records, military service letter, official identification, hunting and / or shooting club credential (in case of requesting long arms), birth certificate, C.U.R.P. and proof of address. In addition, you must obtain the express authorization of the General Directorate of the Federal Register of Firearms and Explosives Control in order to possess or carry a firearm in the country.
There are several factors that have created the need of citizens to seek ways to defend against the insecurity that exists now in our days, as well as the fear of being a victim of it. That is why the task is strong in this area, because to reduce arms trafficking, too many factors must be attacked and consider. The first factor is insecurity, we must seek mechanisms to have a society with greater security in this way we would not be forced to acquire weapons for self-defense, to seek our protection and the protection of our loved ones. Another factor to consider is the black market of arms trafficking, many of the weapons that criminals possess are obtained illegally and therefore not only must limit their legal sale but stop their illegal sale completely. Failure to tackle illegal arms trafficking will not have much impact on creating more restrictive laws. All this without regard to firearms that are for recreational purposes, which we will not discuss at this time.
That is why it is necessary to create awareness of everything that involves the control of weapons, the factors to consider and the paradigms to face. Arms control is one of the great problems that faces every government and that is why it must be on the agenda of all public administration, it is difficult to touch and strike down this issue, but it can’t be left on the end of the agenda. We must begin with something, we must begin to value human lives, the lives of all those we lose by the misuse of firearms and stop giving value to the lucrative or personal benefit of the use of firearms and explosives.
In memory of William Eduardo Cardenas and all the innocent victims of gun violence.